New Jersey Immigration Attorney Discusses I-130 Petition
As a dedicated New Jersey Immigration Attorney, I am often asked by clients about Green Cards and if it would be removed if you ended an abusive relationship. I want to tell you a story about a woman that came to our office about six months ago. She was married to a US citizen and they had a midterm marriage. They’d been together for quite a while, and he finally decided to sponsor her. The I-130 immigrant visa petition was approved, so things were looking good.
At some point, she confided in me that he had a bad drinking problem, and he was quite abusive, and she was beginning to be fearful. People were telling her to get out for her own safety. She didn’t want to stay with him any longer, but she wanted to talk to me to make sure if she had any immigration options if she left him.
There’s a wonderful program; we call it VAWA. The acronym stands for Violence Against Women Act, and men can also apply under VAWA. Some of the requirements for the VAWA program are that someone is married to a US citizen, it has to be a US citizen or a green card holder, it can’t be a person with no documents. The other requirement is that someone has suffered abuse, physical or emotional abuse when they were cohabiting. They can be divorced though if it’s because of domestic violence, divorce is fine within the last two years. They have to prove that they were cohabiting, and they have to prove that it was a bona fide marriage. In other words, they would have to gather documentation showing that they commingled their finances, they got bills together, had insurance together, and filed their taxes together.
In a situation like this, the woman no longer had to be dependent on her abusive US citizen spouse, and she could file the VAWA case on her own. It’s a different petition. It’s called the I-360 petition and it’s a self-sponsorship. Usually, within six months, it’s approved. People have to gather as much documentation as possible to prove the bona fides of the marriage, to prove the abuse, to prove that their spouse was a citizen, to prove that they were married, and fill out the forms with the photos, and the filing fees, etc. Occasionally, it’s possible to get a waiver of the filing fees, as well.
Have you had trouble filing for the I-360 petition? Contact our professional New Jersey Immigration Attorney for more information.